Local Rotaract goes to Mexico

Mike Jimenez: PNT Intern

“Service Above Self” is not just another tired cliche, it’s Rotary International’s official motto and one that a group of students and local community members put into practice when they traveled to Delicias, Mexico to meet and interact with their counterparts recently.

A group of students who are members of the Eastern New Mexico University’s Rotaract club, along with a group from the First Church of the Nazarene, and Rotarian Otis Davis and his family, drove to Delicias, Mexico Nov. 18. The group left Portales at 5 a.m. and arrived in Delicias at approximately 7 p.m. that evening.

The purpose of the trip is to fulfill the Rotaract club’s committment to one international project a year and to provide an experience for young adults in a foreign country, Davis said. Rotaract raises money throughout the year as a means of providing funds to donate to worthwhile projects that they and their counterparts in Mexico agree as having a need.

“Some things are learned only through personal experiences,” Davis, past president of the local chapter of Rotary, said. “The Rotaract Mexico trip has different smells, culture, sights, and language that stretches and broadens the students.

By living with Mexican families, working together to help those less fortunate, they join the international community.”
The journey to Delicias is long, but filled with some moments of adventure. Some of the more memorable moments were the border crossing which was made easier, thanks to the Davis’ foresight in securing some of the travel documents on-line, and by having all of the necessary copies of pertinent paperwork ready.

What those on the trip say normally can take anywhere from three to six hours processing, took less than two on this trip.
A favorite stopping place for those on their way to Delicias are the roadside stands that sell quesadillas and burritos. The group made a stop at one of these in a small community just outside of Chihuahua City, in the state of Chihuahua. The quesadillas are made fresh from locally prepared tortillas, and fresh Asadero cheese.

Upon arriving in Delicias, the club members were divided into different groups. Each group stayed with a host family who are members of the local Rotary club. The Delicias Rotary members who helped host the club were: Ernesto Villalobos, Cuauhtemoc Garcia, Pedro Ortiz, Antonio Rodrigues, Jesus Ruben Hernandez, Alfonso Gomez, and the president, Luis Ramon Daw.

One of the favorite places for Rotaract to donate to and to visit is an orphanage sponsored by Rotary where children are cared for by several nuns.

Courage Idemudia, a student at Eastern New Mexico University, said what he enjoyed the most was, “Mostly going to the orphanage and seeing how happy and joyful the children were.” Idemudia said it was the highlight of the trip for him.

Later, the group was escorted to a nearby mine located at Naica, that contains two recently discovered caves of large crystal formations. The caves are not open to the public, but were made available for Rotaract tours by one of the Rotary members of Delicias who works there. The caves contain some of the largest crystals in the world and have a climate that is extremely humid and hot.

The larger cave’s temperature is approximately 122 degrees Fahrenheit and 100 percent humidity. Visitors are allowed inside the larger cave for only five minutes, and require a change of clothes upon exiting as the ones they wear in are often soaked by the time they leave. The larger cave was not available for viewing, but the smaller cave was reminiscent of trips to Carlsbad caverns.

Afterwards the group toured a Naica intermediate school where the local Rotary club had donated computer equipment. Prior to the donation, students had three computers that ran poorly, now they have a lab that is well equipped with computers, monitors, printers, and access to the Internet.

Later that day, the group toured a senior center that is in the final stages of construction. When completed, the center will serve as a place where low income seniors, and those with the ability to pay, can live or just visit for the day. Rotary members have been a big part of this project, and Rotaract students decided to donate their $1000 to this center to assist the local Rotary club in purchasing needed kitchen equipment for the facility.

The group was treated to a cookout at a Rotary member’s home on Saturday night, and on Sunday were guests of the mayor of Delicias as they celebrated their anniversary of the Mexican Revolution with a parade. Frequently, during the announcements of parade entries, it was mentioned that the Portales Rotaract group was in attendance.

The weekend was capped off with the group’s attendance at a local rodeo, or Charreada. There were demonstrations and a contest between two competing groups of cowboys and cowgirls.

According to Ashley Sego, the current president of Eastern’s Rotaract group, “It’s about having the opportunity to experience the culture and to have the opportunity to serve as well,” Ashley Sego the current president of ENMU’s Rotaract club said. “That makes the trip worthwhile.”

Sego encourages other students at Eastern to join Rotaract and to learn the true meaning of “Service Above Self.”